casiotone for the painfully alone final [2010]

Bottom of the Hill
San Francisco, CA
5 December 2010

It’s not every day you get to meet an artist’s mom at a show. It’s also not everyday that an artist’s show is his last. At least under the same name.

Yes, this was the final, final for-reals final show of Casiotone For The Painfully Alone. CFTPA is Owen Ashworth, but thankfully, Ashworth will continue to make music under a different name (presumably with a different sound as well).

But on this night, thirteen years to the day after his debut at the very same Bottom of the Hill, Ashworth bid farewell to this moniker and this electronic, eccentrically-beautiful sound. Sustaining the adoration of devoted fans for over a decade is no small feat, but that is exactly what Ashworth has done.

It was a night filled with both sadness and promise, with frequent mentions of both the obvious end and the to-be-determined future project (a name was actually dropped – Advance Base, but no word on how it will differ from his previous work).

It was a night that perfectly represented Ashworth’s crossroads. He began his set in the same manner he has all these years, alone with his keyboards. But as he as done more and more recently, he was eventually joined by a full band (The Donkeys, who have accompanied him on several tours), leading at least some in the audience to speculate that a larger lineup might very well be his future. The fact that the second half of the set, with The Donkeys, was absolutely inspired and thoroughly outshined the solo portion seemed to suggest that part of Ashworth has already left the old behind.

And finally, this was a night of cameos, of appreciation and thanks. Mark Kozelek (of Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon) joined Ashworth briefly on stage, to sing on “Natural Light” (off of CFTPA’s final album Vs. Children), and Jason Quever of The Papercuts, Ashworth’s longtime friend and collaborator took a turn as well. It felt like a wake.

And after the final encore of the final CFTPA show, on my way out, I professed my appreciation not to Ashworth himself, but to his mother. “I’m excited to hear what he’s going to come up with next”, I said. “I’m just happy he’s moving on”, she replied.